|Headquarters||Manhattan, New York City|
|Key people||Martin Goodman|
Marvel Comics released a number of magazine-format titles in the 1970s (most actively from 1973 to 1977) in addition to its regular output of comic books. Marvel's attempt at entering the comics-magazine field dominated by Warren Publishing, the new line of (mostly) black-and-white anthology magazines predominantly featured horror, sword and sorcery, and science fiction. The magazines did not carry the Marvel name, but were produced by Marvel staffers and freelancers, and featured characters regularly found in Marvel comic books (as well as some creator-owned material). In addition to the many horror titles (most of which were published from 1973 to 1975), prominent titles from this group included Savage Sword of Conan, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Marvel Preview, and Planet of the Apes.
The magazine format did not fall under the purview of the Comics Code, allowing the titles to feature stronger content — such as moderate profanity, partial nudity, and more graphic violence — than Marvel's "mainstream" titles. The larger format allowed the interior artists to "stretch out" a bit more; and some critics feel they produced better work in these magazines than they did in Marvel's regular comic line. Artists like John Buscema in Rampaging Hulk, and Gene Colan in Dracula Lives!, preferred the black-and-white medium, and used it to its fullest in these titles. Marvel magazines all featured fully painted covers, giving illustrators like Earl Norem, Bob Larkin, Ken Barr, Luis Dominguez, Neal Adams, Frank Brunner, Boris Vallejo, and Joe Jusko plenty of work during this period.
Writer Doug Moench, already a veteran of Marvel's martial arts and horror/suspense comics (Master of Kung Fu and Werewolf by Night respectively), was the group's de facto lead writer. He contributed to the entire runs of Planet of the Apes, Rampaging Hulk (continuing on the title when it changed its name to The Hulk!), and Doc Savage, while also serving as a regular scribe for virtually every other title during the course of the line's existence. Sol Brodsky (who in 1970 had helped launch Skywald Publications' line of black-and-white horror magazines before returning to Marvel) served as the production manager of the Marvel magazine line. Lead editors for the magazine group were Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, and later Archie Goodwin and John Warner. Tony Isabella, Don McGregor, and David Anthony Kraft also spent stints editing magazine titles.
Despite the high level of talent involved in their creation, many issues of the Marvel black-and-white line padded their pages with reprints, including a number of stories originally published before the 1954 introduction of the Comics Code. In addition, production values were notoriously poor, especially in comparison to Warren and Skywald's black-and-white magazines. Initially, the Marvel magazines' page-counts varied between 68, 76, and 84 pages.
Initially, the only company brand on the magazines was the "three C's" Curtis Circulation Company logo (Curtis being Marvel's distributor and an affiliated company). The Marvel Comics brand and logo did not always appear on the cover or in the indicia; the only obvious relation to Marvel being the publisher's name, Magazine Management, a name that the four-color comics stopped using in 1973 but was retained for the black-and-white magazines. Nonetheless, Marvel characters appeared regularly in the magazine line, and many of the magazine titles were featured in the four-color comics' house advertisements. The Curtis imprint was reduced to "CC" in 1975.
The magazine line was Marvel's second attempt (following the two-issue superhero entry The Spectacular Spider-Man in 1968) at entering the comics-magazine field dominated by Warren Publishing and smaller publishers like Eerie Publications and Skywald. The first title was Savage Tales, which debuted in 1971 — and was immediately cancelled. Roy Thomas, a key Marvel editor who become the company's editor-in-chief in 1972, recalled that...
...there were several things that led to Savage Tales being cancelled after that first issue. [Publisher] Martin Goodman had never really wanted to do a non-[Comics] Code comic, probably because he didn't want any trouble with the [Comics Magazine Association of America] over it. Nor did he really want to get into magazine-format comics; and [Marvel editor-in-chief] Stan [Lee] really did. So Goodman looked for an excuse to cancel it.
Goodman left Marvel in 1972, and in 1973 the magazine line took off. In addition to reviving Savage Tales (though with a new lineup of contents), Marvel released the new titles Dracula Lives!, Vampire Tales, and Monsters Unleashed (all published under the Marvel Monster Group brand), Tales of the Zombie, the digest version of Haunt of Horror, and the Mad imitation Crazy. Editor Wolfman revealed that, "We used to farm the books out to Harry Chester Studios [sic] and whatever they pasted up, they pasted up. I formed the first production staff, hired the first layout people, paste-up people." 1974 saw the debut of Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Monsters of the Movies (a blatant imitation of Warren's Famous Monsters of Filmland), Planet of the Apes, Savage Sword of Conan — and Marvel's short-lived, misguided entree into underground comix, Comix Book.
By late 1974, Marvel had flooded the black-and-white comics magazine market with eleven regular titles, succeeding in driving rival Skywald out of business. Skywald editor Editor Al Hewetson blamed his company's demise on...
...Marvel's distributor. Our issues were selling well, and some sold out. Such returns as we received were shipped overseas, mainly to England, where they sold out completely... When Marvel entered the game with countless [black-and-white horror] titles gutting [sic] the newsstand, their distributor was so powerful they denied Skywald access to all but the very largest newsstands, so our presence was minimal and fans and readers simply couldn't find us. ... [We] had a business lunch with our distributor in the fall of '74 and we were given very specific information about the state of affairs on the newsstands — which had nothing to do with Warren's or Skywald’s solid readership base.
Despite this victory, in 1975 the Marvel magazine line was revamped. All the horror titles were cancelled (although several would then get an all-reprint, extra-thick "Annual" #1). Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Planet of the Apes, Savage Sword of Conan, and Crazy continued, and quite a few new titles were announced, promoted, and listed in the regular subscription ads, but almost none were released as ongoing publications. Marvel Super Action and Marvel Movie Premiere became one-shots, while Sherlock Holmes and Star-Lord surfaced in the Marvel Preview anthology. Some of the material intended for a self-titled magazine for martial arts/superhero hybrid Iron Fist, whose four-color feature was at this time still appearing under the Marvel Premiere title, saw the light of publishing day in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #10. Masters of Terror and Doc Savage did manage two and eight issues respectively. The line would never again consist at one time of more titles than could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
1977 saw the debut of the final 1970s Marvel magazine of note, Rampaging Hulk (which later changed its title to The Hulk!, lasting until 1981). Starting with 1981 cover-date, Marvel finally put its own name, as "Marvel Magazine Group," on such new titles as the Howard the Duck magazine as well as on such surviving titles as Savage Sword of Conan— the longest-lived magazine-born title, which lasted 235 issues through 1995. Upon the line's demise, former editor Wolfman asserted that "Marvel never gave their full commitment to it, that was the problem. No one wanted to commit themselves to the staff."
- Arndt, Richard J. "A 2005 Interview with Tony Isabella!" Enjolrasworld.com: Marvel’s Black & White Horror Magazines Checklist. Accessed May 4, 2013.
- Arndt, Richard J. "Marvel’s Black & White Horror Magazines Checklist," Enjolrasworld.com. Accessed May 4, 2013.
- Welles, Chris (10 Feb 1969). "Post-Mortem". New York Magazine: pp. 32–36. http://books.google.com/books?id=nOECAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA36&lpg=PA36&dq=Magazine+Management+CO.,+Inc.&source=bl&ots=XukfyPaKqy&sig=YnM8PwX6QD7yy8mtgU258WcDh84&hl=en&ei=wFs8Ts78EZOLsAK50uEZ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDUQ6AEwBTgy#v=onepage&q=Magazine%20Management%20CO.%2C%20Inc.&f=false. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
- The "three C's" logo was also used for some of Magazine Management publisher Martin Goodman's men's humor cartoon magazines such as Best Cartoons, Cartoons & Gags, Cartoon Laughs, Popular Cartoons, and Popular Jokes during the 1970s. Most of these magazines contained single-panel cartoons, but many of them also contained short "Pussycat" stories by Jim Mooney and others. Other so-called Curtis magazines included the Sensuous Streaker one-shot and Nostalgia Illustrated, which lasted for nearly a year. None of these magazines were advertised in Marvel comic books.
- Roy Thomas interview, Alter Ego #81 (Oct. 2008), p. 21
- Sanderson, Peter and Peter B. Gillis "Comics Feature Interviews Marv Wolfman" Comics Feature #12/13 (September/October 1981) p. 44
- Arndt, Richard J. (December 2, 2010). "The Complete Skywald Checklist [including] A 2003 Interview With Archaic Al Hewetson!". EnjolrasWorld.com. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. http://web.archive.org/web/20110716140104/http://www.enjolrasworld.com/Richard%20Arndt/The%20Complete%20Skywald%20Checklist.htm. Additional WebCitation archive, June 15, 2010.
- Enjolrasworld.com: Marvel’s Black & White Horror Magazines Checklist
- Wyman, Adrian. "Superheroes from the Crypt: Marvel's Bronx Age World of Horror," Panelology: Where Comic Books Make Sense (2010)
- Covers of Monsters of the Movies
- Planet of the Apes magazine covers
- Gallery of Marvel magazines